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Full text of "Groundcover News Vol. 3 no. 1 January 2012"

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INStDE 

Opinion 

Something new and tasty under 
the sun - p. 3 

Reclaiming our lives with 
voluntary simplicity - p. 3 



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One m 



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homeles 




p. 4 



Bills that fc ^ng 

people for fe ihe 

impossible - p. 5 



Imagine a wc 




Ann Arbor 




Camp Take Not! 


vides a 


true democracy for ho 


me less 


persons 


- p. 6 


Groundcover vendors 




homeless, where are t 





Puzzles 



The arts 



P- » 



If a dog and cat can do it, then 
so can I - p. 12 




otmo ws. com 



OPINION 



Finishing and starting fresh 




by Susan Beckett 
Publisher 

There is such release in 
beginnings and endings. 
The lure of a fresh canvas 
unleashes atavistic cre- 
ative forces that bubble 
with energy. Standing back to view 
completed work deepens our satisfac- 
tion reservoirs. That mixture provides 
a fertile growth medium for the next 
endeavor. 

Getting to completion takes a lot of 
energy. It always seem nearer than it is, 
and then there is always "just one more 
thing." It often takes a concerted big 
push to conquer that last one percent. 

Escaping financial collapse follows this 
pattern. While one can hold on and 
survive for quite a while, cleaning up 
the financial mess that accumulates in 
the process is exhausting and seem- 
ingly endless. I wonder if resources are 
more effective in the long run when 
spread around to help many hold on 
with a touch of dignity or concentrated 
to the great benefit of a smaller number 



CROUNDCOVER NEWS 
MISSION : 

Croundcover News 
exists to create opportunity 
and a voice for low-income 
people while taking action 
to end homelessness and 
poverty. 



contact@groundcovernews.com 



Laurie Lpunsbum, Lelitor 
editor@groundcovernews.com 



C. Lee Alexander, Assistant Editor 
Andrew Nixon, Assistant Editor 



Martha Brunell 
La Shawn Courtwright 
David KE Dodge 
Francesca Lupia 
Jerry Mack 

Letters to trie F ciitor: 
editor@qroundcovernews.com 



submissions@groundcovernews.com 



contact@groundcovernews.com 



www.sroundcovernews-com 



+25 5- +tln Ave, Ann Ar 



'W-971-0916 



of indigent people who emerge with 
no debts and a clean start. Will these 
people's subsequent self-sufficiency 
make more resources available to those 
who got nothing in the previous round 
of funding so that they, too, can now 
emerge with a clean slate? Will the ef- 
fect of these people paying taxes instead 
of receiving services eventually lead to 
that last one percent being taken care 
of? I doubt it, but it may be a more ef- 
fective, if less humane, model than the 
one we now use. 

Groundcover is launching a matched 
savings program for our vendors that 
might shed some light on the questions 
posed above. A few people who find 
ways to save regularly will have their 
savings doubled or tripled to enable 
them to make a substantive improve- 
ment in their lives. In theory, this 
should result in further savings. 

If a person maintains an emergency 
savings fund of their own, they are less 
likely to have to take out a short-term 
loan that comes with high interest rates. 
If they purchase a cart, they have the 
means to transport groceries and larger 
numbers of newspapers to sell. Pay- 



ing for a drivers license could open up 
more employment opportunities and 
greater income. More will be forthcom- 
ing on this in future issues. 

In a bit of good news, the State of 
Michigan is ending the imposition of 
driver responsibility fees for violations 
like driving without a license or insur- 
ance. Such fees contribute 26.3 million 
dollars to the state coffers. Unfortunate- 
ly, this change will not take effect until 
October 12, 2012. 

As reported in earlier issues of Ground- 
cover, these fees further penalized those 
without the resources to comply with 
licensing fees to the point where they 
could never get out from under the 
fines and fees. 

"This legislation addresses unintended 
consequences of the previous law and 
helps protect many of our most eco- 
nomically vulnerable Michiganders," 
said Governor Snyder. 

Kudos to the legislature and governor 
for recognizing the hardship these fees 
are perpetuating and for taking action 
to end them. 



The legislature also created a fund to 
replace the eliminated the Low Income 
and Energy Efficiency Fund that was 
eliminated earlier this year. The new 
Vulnerable Household Warmth Fund 
is expected to provide heating assis- 
tance to 95,000 low- income Michigan 
residents. 

The Washtenaw County Board of Com- 
missioners took advantage of unex- 
pected savings from the settlement of 
lawsuits to restore some of the funding 
cuts to the coordinated funding for 
human services made in earlier budget 
proposals. 

It is particularly refreshing these days to 
have something to be grateful for at the 
hands of the government. 

January is a time for luxuriating in the 
memories, time, and energy freed up by 
the conclusion of holiday festivities and 
end-of-year reconciliations. The lure of 
the blank slate and endless possibilities 
calls, unhampered by the plethora of 
decisions that narrow and define the ac- 
tual enterprise. This is a time to restore 
the drive that will power the climb over 
the next of life's hills. Enjoy! 



Take action to change our state government 



Guest Editorial 

Danielle Mack is studying education at 
WCCandEMU 

I had an enjoyable Thanksgiving with 
my homeless and social work friends 
at the Vineyard Church Thanksgiving 
celebration. I really enjoy getting to see 
friends there that I have not seen in a 
while. I really enjoyed touching base 
with my friends from Camp Take No- 
tice, Groundcover News vendors, the 
church staff from Vineyard Church's 
Homeless Ministry, and various other 
like-minded social workers. It was very 
much like a family reunion. I am glad 
to see all this work being done to help 
them. I am also glad to see that my 
friends all seem to have people that 
care for them and are helping them 
with what they can. 

Amidst all this fun and joy, I found 
a very dark cloud beginning to affect 
my friends. This dark cloud has just 
begun to affect me with the loss of my 
food stamps this month. Nearly half of 
my friends, homeless and low- income 
alike, have lost their food stamps. Those 
who used to give so freely and readily 
to homeless ministries like Vineyard 
have less to give. Vineyard only had 
enough food to feed everyone once, 
with few leftovers for those in need. In 
past years they have had enough to feed 
everyone a few times, with leftovers for 
everyone to take home with them and 
more leftovers for their other home- 
less outreaches. I talked to a few of 
the homeless ministry volunteers and 



found out that even the canned goods 
that they give out at their weekly "Pizza 
in the Park" homeless outreach have 
taken a serious hit. The story seems to 
be the same with other homeless minis- 
tries throughout the Ann Arbor area. 

Part of these hits come from Governor 
Rick Snyder who is upping student s 
tuition, cutting funding to schools, clos- 
ing schools down, taking food stamps 
away from people that need them, de- 
stroying unions, firing publicly elected 
officials, etc. Part of these hits come 
from the Republican Party in the state 
and federal governments trying to de- 
stroy all middle class incomes. Middle 
class people are losing jobs and having 
wages cut; teachers are being laid off 
due to funding cuts. Our county, state, 
and country are very quickly headed for 
a fresh new form of Hell. Instead of of- 
fering our homeless population a hand 
up, we are sweeping them under the 
rug, out of sight and out of mind. 
Those homeless people who are doing 
something with their lives by going 
back to school to get degrees and be- 
come contributing members of society 
again are having their food stolen from 
them with Governor Snyder taking 
away their food stamps because they are 
in school. 

I believe it is time for a change. We 
need to organize our efforts. Our col- 
leges are packed with ticked-off stu- 
dents having to pay more for college, 
and having their financial aid cut. You 
want Snyder gone? Network and get 



petitions circulating at the start of next 
semester at all our community colleges, 
as well as Eastern Michigan University, 
Michigan State University, and Univer- 
sity of Michigan. Get students who are 
just starting, graduating and currently 
attending classes to sign these petitions. 
Go to homeless shelters, register them 
to vote, and have them sign petitions. 

Go to elementary, middle, and high 
schools during parent teacher confer- 
ences to get even more signatures. Go 
for maximum effect with areas of high 
concentration of people that want to 
see him gone. Network so we get all the 
signatures in the required time limit. 

Try occupying Lansing in front of the 
governors mansion. If you want to 
see fewer people who are homeless on 
the street, then HELP them - increase 
funding to organizations that help 
them. We are in a recession; people are 
losing their jobs, and we need to help 
them find new jobs and teach them how 
to survive in this new economy. For 
those of you uncomfortable with being 
on the front lines of fighting to help 
those around you, donate your time to 
help with serving food at Delonis Cen- 
ter, or Vineyard Church, or some other 
organization; donate whatever you can 
to help no matter how small. Even if it 
is nothing more than a can of food a 
week or a month, every little bit helps. 
Give just a few seconds of your time 
to sign a petition. We can make things 
better, but not without your help. 



OPINION 



Something new and tasty under the sun 



*^pp^«« 




by Reverend 
Martha Brunell 
Pastor, Bethlehem 
United Church of 
Christ 



One of the great things about 
being near a farmer s market 
is that you never know when 
you are going to come face-to- 
face with a unique product, a 
different way of using familiar 
materials, a hybrid crop, or a 
new vendor. There is always 
something to learn at the 
farmer's market. It is never the 
same from one visit to the next. 

I had one of those learning 
moments on a recent trip to the 
Ann Arbor market. Life had 
been too hectic, and I hadn't 



been there for a while. I took a 
few minutes to linger, to check 
to see if vendors were in their 
usual spots or not, to wonder 
about people who were missing 
from the usual crowd, and to 
inhale the distinct fragrance of 
holiday greens. All of a sudden, 
there I was, holding a bottle 
of hickory syrup. I had never 
heard of hickory syrup. The 
hickory syrup guy in the tidy 
booth was most anxious for 
me to have a taste. I admit I 
was a skeptic at first about this 
hickory syrup. 

I grew up in upstate New York 
and southern Vermont where 
the countryside is dotted with 
maple trees and sugar houses. 
Every spring, for years, my 
elementary school classes 



made our way through the 
snow in late winter to the 
small building with a huge, 
roaring fire underneath a long, 
open vat. There maple sap was 
being boiled down into syrup. 
The sweet, sticky smells from 
the inside of a sugar house in 
production are some of the 
most heavenly smells I know. I 
am a syrup snob when it comes 
to pancakes, French toast, and 
waffles. Don't hand me bottled 
sugar water with a whiff of 
artificial maple flavor. I want 
genuine syrup. 

That day at the farmer's market, 
I couldn't imagine why I 
needed to add hickory syrup 
to my condiments. However, 
the syrup guy was persistent 
even while a few more hesitant 



shoppers gathered in front of 
him. I tried the syrup; we all 
did. It was quite good. I bought 
several bottles for Christmas 
gifts. And then I asked about 
how it is made, this Soaring 
Hill hickory syrup, in Adrian, 
Michigan. It turns out that 
hickory tree sap can't be tapped 
like maple sap. Rather, the core 
of the process is the boiling of 
hickory bark. 

My gift bottles of hickory syrup 
sat on the kitchen counter 
for a while as the holidays 
approached. When I saw them, 
I thought about my fondness 
for maple syrup and my delight 
at having discovered a fresh 
version of syrup that is also the 
real thing. It is always humbling 
and enriching to know there is 



more than one "real thing" in 
many areas of our lives. 

Entering this new year of 2012, 
perhaps we all will stumble 
upon a process or a product, 
an understanding or an 
undertaking, an opportunity 
or an organization that is new 
to our experience. 2012 can be 
a year of trying out what we 
haven't known, done, tasted, 
or considered before. I am not 
suggesting a long, undoable 
list of New Year's resolutions. 
Instead, let's encourage one 
another to remain open to 
some newness, big or small, 
waiting for each of us around 
the corner. 

Here's to a year of fresh "real 
things!" 



Reclaiming your life with voluntary simplicity 




by Andrew Nixon 
Assistant Editor 

Question: If you could 
change one thing about 
your life, what would it 
be? 



Wait, let me guess. More time? Less 
chaos? 

I don't have to read minds to know 
that, for many readers, I guessed right. 
Closely related problems, not enough 
time and too much chaos seem to be 
facts of life as unavoidable as death and 
taxes. 

Make no mistake about it - if 
you routinely feel overwhelmed, 
undernourished, strained, drained, and 
distracted - you are not alone. From 
the overextended adolescent to the 
bewildered senior and all in between, 
it seems everyone feels the strain of 
modern living. For despite all the 
many achievements and advantages 
of modern society, never before has 
living been so downright complicated. 
There is so much to accomplish and so 
little time, we are forced to constantly 
adapt by going faster - pushing the 
speed limit in all aspects of life. We race 
frantically through things and between 
things. We improve our efficiency and 
we learn to multitask. (I've been known 
to brush my teeth while driving - that's, 
like, two whole minutes saved!) 

The problem is, the system adapts as 
we do - greater efficiency quickly gets 
converted into higher standards of 
productivity - and so we find ourselves 
caught in a vicious cycle of doing more 
and more in less and less time just in 



order to survive. We intuit the insanity 
of this, but don't know exactly what 
we can do to break the cycle. We long 
desperately to slow down... but how? 

By appreciating that these workaday 
woes are not just a personal problem 
but a societal one, we can find 
compassion for ourselves. It is not we 
personally who are failing, it is the 
system. And when we see this, we 
realize that we have a choice - not 
necessarily a choice to create a life of 
perfect ease instantly, but a choice to 
start experimenting with ways to bring 
just a little more sanity into our daily 
life. This experiment in intentional 
living is often referred to as "voluntary 
simplicity." 

In my own groping toward a 
lifestyle that nourishes as much as 
it accomplishes, I have found the 
following ideas helpful. I hope you find 
some of them helpful, too. 



Six Ways to Cultivate Voluntary 
Simplicity 

Simple Suggestion #1: Start with 
you. Gandhi said, "Be the change you 
wish to see in the world." There may be 
a thousand-and-one things about the 
world you'd like to change. But your 
own personal life is the only item on 
that list you always can do something 
about. So if you are feeling the desire 
for more spaciousness in your life, 
resolve in this very moment to do 
something about it. By finding your 
own way, you will help show the way 
for others. 



Simple Suggestion #2: Start 
where you are. Work with your life 
circumstances as they are now. No 
matter how busy you are, there is 
always something you can do, however 
modest, to create a modicum of peace 
and well-being in your life. With a 
little ingenuity, it may be possible to 
turn a normally stressful activity into 
a pleasant one. For example, you can 
ease the tension of the work commute 
quite a bit simply by putting more 
space between your vehicle and the 
one ahead of you. Larger distance 
means longer reaction time, translating 
into less braking and a more relaxed 
mindset (let alone better fuel efficiency 
and improved traffic safety). Learn to 
tune in to your simplicity-needs and 
then get creative and proactive about 
fulfilling them. 

Simple Suggestion #3: Start small. 

Practicing voluntary simplicity might 
be worth the effort, but it's not always 
easy. It involves undoing deeply 
ingrained habits and going against the 
grain of our culture. Be realistic and 
gentle with yourself, starting with low- 
hanging fruit and one thing at a time, 
and being easy on yourself when you 
inevitably stumble. Too much change 
too quickly can be overwhelming. 
Gradual adjustments made at the right 
time and in the spirit of playfulness 
are more likely to stand the test of 
time than sweeping reforms made in a 
moment of exasperation. 

Simple Suggestion #4: Downsize. 

What is truly most important to you in 
life? Today? At the moment? What in 
your life genuinely serves these values 
and meets your needs? What can you 
do without going without? We all 



have needs for pleasure, excitement, 
entertainment, comfort, even luxury, 
and fortunately the means available in 
this culture for satisfying these needs 
are virtually limitless. The challenge 
here, of course, is to know when "more 
is less and less is more," and recognize 
the difference between "need" and 
"want." When we cross the fuzzy 
line from abundance to excess, we 
needlessly complicate our lives with 
false obligations and clutter our minds 
with unessential information. To take 
an example from my own life, my music 
collection is so enormous that I haven't 
even listened to all of it. Maintaining 
the collection (all, to my everlasting 
woe, still on CD's) has been a career in 
itself, and I cannot tell you how many 
times this hobby of mine has been a 
source of stress, as when I put on an 
album because I feel I should, rather 
than really am in the mood to listen to 
it. Recendy, for the sake of my sanity, 
I have decided to scale back my music 
mania a bit. Now I can be occasionally 
spotted sitting, cooking, or driving with 
the stereo off. The throughways of my 
mind already feel less crowded; the 
relative silence is truly golden. 

Simple Suggestion #5: Downshift. 

With less clutter in our life, we can 
afford to slow down a bit. No longer 
merely rushing between destinations, 
we can inhabit our bodies and our 
senses more fully We catch up with 
the backlog of thoughts and feelings 
that piled up while we were busy 
running around. We move through 
the temporary waves of panic and 
boredom we encounter when we first 
begin to slow down, realizing that we 
forgot what true stillness feels like. We 

see SIMPLICITY, page 11 



www. ground co vernews . com 



STREET STORIES 



The makeshift living arrangements of a person with unsettled housing 



by Bill 

Writers note: I am using "makeshift" as 
temporary living and "unsettled" as not 
permanent All too often too many think 
of homeless as someone who lives in the 
street and not as someone who does not 
have a stable place to call home. 

My housing situation was stable until 
2002-2003, when parents and myself 
got into arguments about the apartment 
that I was living in. In fall of 2003, 1 
moved to Ann Arbor. For about three 
months I lived with my sister, then in 
my family-owned house until 2004. 

In 2004 1 moved in to a small room 
where I had to live in close quarters 
with others, but during the year I 
lost my job and I decided to move to 
Springfield, Missouri. From 2005-2007, 
I lived in Springfield but I had trouble 
keeping a stable job and other factors 
that are connected to bipolar disorder 
(and other traits of mental illness). It 
was also my first time that I actually 
had one-on-one contact on weekly 
basis with the homeless. I was eating 
at a food kitchen at least once a week. 
Before this I was always told to support 
the homeless but to allow them to 
"reap their own consequences." (This is 
based on the idea that you give money, 
food, etc. to a food bank or homeless 
shelter to help the "needy 5 but it is the 
homeless persons fault.) 

In 2007, 1 made a foolish mistake and 
followed a crusade of a religious faction 
into relocating to St. Louis. This group 
had assured me that I would be well 
taken care of (by God) if I obeyed (give 
up all I had and move to St. Louis). I 
gave all my belongings to the Salvation 
Army and headed to St. Louis. I found 
the cult, and was instructed along with 
the other new recruits to spend the 
night in the bad part of the city. If we 



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writer or volunteer for 
Groundcover News? 

Please feel free to attend 
our next meeting at 7 p.m. 
Thursday, Jan. 1 2, in the 
Gallery room at Bethlehem 
United Church of Christ, 
423 S. Fourth Ave., Ann 
Arbor. 

You may also reach us at: 

contact@groundcovernews.com 



survived, we would know that we were 
the chosen ones. If we did not comply, 
all protections would be removed. I 
found a homeless shelter where I spent 
the night instead. 

Finding myself going nowhere and 
having a discharge date ahead of me, 
I got tired of all the religious mumbo- 
jumbo. I called my grandma and moved 
in with her. 

During the fell of 2007, 1 got hired and 
was making money (working 16-hour 
days up to seven days a week). But 
mentally I could not take it. I lost my 
job and was sent to the hospital. 
While I was in the hospital, my parents 
tried to salvage the situation (and 
save face) by taking me to California. 
This plan only worked for 30 days, 
and I was put in to a stockade-style 
hospital. From the hospital a nonprofit 
group was trying to "help" me (a false 
protector). I would have been homeless, 
but this group stepped in and provided 
"housing" for me. While I wont go in 
to details, the FBI and Department of 
Justice shut the place down and put the 
owners and staff in prison. 

In addition to the problems that I was 
having at this place, I had a warrant for 
my arrest in Ann Arbor. (According 
to the lawyers, as long as I stayed out 
of Michigan, and away from the FBI, 
I would be fine.) But I was living in 
South Central Los Angeles. I got on to 
a bus and a gang member saw a rival 
gang member and pulled out a semi- 
automatic gun and start firing on the 
bus. Fearing for my life I fled back to 
Ann Arbor. 

From 2008-2010 I was living with my 
grandma. 

In October 2010, 1 got my own 



apartment. I kept it until I lost my job 
in February, 201 1. By May 201 1, 1 was 
back at my grandma's house. 

From May 201 1 until October 201 1, 1 
was doing fine but then in October she 
kicked me out. 

The first time she kicked me out, she 
called the police because I was asking 
too many questions. These questions 
were in regard to being a tenant. I 
walked from Eisenhower Parkway in 
Ann Arbor to Fulton County, Ohio. 
When I arrived in Fulton County, I was 
rushed to the Fulton County Health 
Center, where they determined that I 
was hypothermic and dehydrated. 

My grandma picked me up and took 
me to the U of M hospital, where I was 
sent to a third hospital. A week later, I 
was back at my grandmas house. 

The final downfall was when she kicked 
me out over a piece of toast. I get 8-10 
loaves of bread from the food pantry. 
She bought a "special" loaf of bread for 
herself and I ate it. She then wanted me 
to buy her another one. I refused and 
went to visit a friend. 

When I returned, she locked the door 
and tried to call the police. I turned off 
the power and water to the house. 
When the police showed up I was 
given two choices - go to jail or go to 
Community Support and Treatment 
Services (CSTS). 

I told them that even if I wanted to go 

to CSTS they would 

be closed. The police 

assured me that my 

case worker would be 

there waiting for me. 

I showed up and sure 

enough she was. I was 



provided with a hotel, where I had to 
meet with them. Later I found out that 
it was my grandma who paid for the 
hotel. 

I visited the tent city Camp Take 
Notice. I returned to my hotel room 
and packed up, planning to move in to 
the Delonis Center on Monday at 1 1 
a.m. 

On Monday, I showed up at 1 1 a.m. 
expecting to walk in and have a bed. 
After taking care of the pre-screening 
and wasting an hour, I was told that 
there were no beds. I was totally upset. 
I had lunch and then took both of my 
bags of belongings and my winter coat 
to my grandmas house and dropped 
them off. 

I went to the hospital for a week, and 
then went back to the Delonis Center, 
where I got a cot. I was able to move to 
the third floor and now I have my own 
bed. 

While my "home" for now is at the 
shelter, I am hoping that someday I can 
move in to a place where I can stay for 
some time (10+ years if an apartment 
and 25+ years if it is an house) and 
get to call home. Since 2003, 1 have 
stayed in 14 different homes but I have 
yet to find something that I can wake 
up and say "good morning house" (or 
apartment), this is my home and not 
having to worry about losing it, and to 
come back at night and say "Welcome 
Home," and know it will be for a while. 



4- At Trinity Lutheran Church, everyone is 
.gisp^^welcome, regardless of abilities, race, 
sexual orientation, or faith journey. 

There Is A Place For You Here. 

trinity • lutherat) * church 

pb; 734.662.4419 * fx: 734.662.4515 
web: trmityaa.org 

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II 



■M 



MAKING A DIFFERENCE 



Bills that bind - being imprisoned for failing to do the impossible 



by Susan Beckett 
Publisher 

The December issue told stories of local 
housing-challenged people mired in debt, 
much of it the result of compounding 
fines and penalties incurred for not 
paying bills and fees. When money is 
owed to a governmental unit, many such 
people end up going to jail in lieu of 
making payments. Some have challenged 
the ethics and legality of imprisoning 
people for their inability to pay their 
debts. This month, we look at local court 
cases, including one being taken up by 
the Michigan Supreme Court. 

Local attorney Rolf Berg, a recently 
retired appeals attorney, related two 
Michigan cases similar to the Gulfport, 
Mississippi case described last month. 
A defendant with no available cash was 
told that if he promised to pay $3,000 
in the next five months, his sentencing 
would be delayed until then, allowing 
him to avoid jail. He then returned to 
Florida where he and his family had 
been living. He worked as a welder and 
made regular payments to the court 
until his back went out a few months 
later. He returned to Michigan for his 
trial date. The Michigan judge accepted 
that going to Florida was a good-faith 
effort to work and pay, but since he 
"broke his promise," the plea deal was 
voided and he was sentenced to prison. 

Another client accepted the claim 




that his ex- wife 

became pregnant 

during a one-night 

stand after their 

separation. He paid 

support for years 

but stopped when 

convinced that he 

had been duped. 

Later, although that 

child was then 18, 

he was arrested for 

this failure to pay child support. He 

had been living in Florida where he 

was supporting a wife and two young 

children. He returned to Michigan and 

was ultimately offered a deal of no jail 

if he paid $5,000 of the amount owing 

within six months. But by this time 

his loss of income had resulted in his 

family's eviction. 

Working two jobs and cutting expenses, 
even for his depression medication, he 
was able first to get his family back in a 
house and had a contract which, when 
the work was completed, would permit 
him to pay the $5,000 on time. But the 
stress was too much and he got arrested 
after a drunken argument with his wife. 
He languished in jail as he could not 
get a trial date and a guilty plea would 
violate his Michigan probation. His 
family again ended up on the street. 
Finally, he was precipitously brought 
back to Oakland County, unshaven, 
and visited in jail by a woman who he 
thought was from Friend of the Court, 



but was actually his attorney. 
The next day he was sentenced 
to 3 - 10 years in prison 
despite his good faith efforts to 
comply and the family he was 
diligently supporting. 

Again the explanation was 
that he had failed to keep his 
promise to pay The Michigan 
Supreme Court is reviewing 
several cases that challenge 
the right of the state to criminalize 
poverty. At issue is whether the failure 
to pay child support is a criminal act 
regardless of the parents ability to pay. 

One case recently profiled on Michigan 
Radio is People vs. Likine. Selesa 
Likine was ordered to make child 
support payments of $1,131 per month 
for her three children based on her 
income as a real estate agent. In 2005 
she was hospitalized and suffered a 
schizophrenic break. She paid little 
or no child support in the following 
years while she subsisted on disability 
payments. In 2008, she was charged 
with failing to pay child support, a 
criminal felony. At her trial, she was not 
allowed to introduce any evidence of 
her inability to make those payments 
and she was convicted, making her a 
felon and virtually guaranteeing she 
will never work as a realtor again. 

Under current law, if a person is 
ordered by family court to pay child 



support and goes into a coma the next 
day, the person is criminally liable for 
failure to pay, even though they were 
incapacitated and unable to comply 
with the court order or petition for a 
reduction in support payment, and the 
failure to do so was involuntary. 

An association of Michigan Criminal 
Law Professors evaluated this case 
and concluded that the courts erred 
when they failed to allow testimony 
regarding the defendants ability 
to pay. They asserted that it was a 
violation of both the Michigan and the 
United States constitutions to punish 
individuals for failing to perform acts 
impossible for them to perform. If the 
Michigan Supreme Court upholds the 
lower courts decision, it would make 
Michigan the only state in the nation to 
reject the fundamental tenet that people 
are only criminally responsible for 
voluntary acts. 

Michigan is currently the only state 
which has no defense for persons 
unable to make ordered child 
support payments. No decision has 
been reached, but in the recent oral 
arguments in the Supreme Court 
one Justice admitted that the loss of 
a job may make one unable to pay, 
but suggested that the person could 
have saved up for such a possibility. It 
also appeared that the majority may 
recognize such a defense, but limit it to 
cases of absolute impossibility. 



Winter tragedies could be avoided with a warming center for homeless 



Guest Column by Orian Zakai 

Orian Zakai is a PhD student at the 
department of Comparative Literature 
at the University of Michigan, an author 
of fiction in Hebrew, and a member of 
Occupy Ann Arbor 

Winter is here. Deadly low 
temperatures will torture hundreds 
of Washtenaw County inhabitants 
who will not be able to find shelter. 
The Delonis Center has diminished 
the capacity of its warming spaces 
this year, from 75 to 25. Even with 
additional 75 spaces at the Delonis 
residential program and the 25 spaces 
at the rotating church shelter, this is 
not enough. We know for a fact that 
dozens of people were sleeping outside, 
under bridges, on sidewalks, on the 
footsteps of churches, gas stations, 
etc., in previous winters. The recent 
foreclosures, layoffs and pension cuts 
mean that more people are looking for 
shelter rather than fewer. 

In addition, Ann Arbor has been 
lacking a daytime warming center for a 



while now, and thus, numerous people 
must wander around town during the 
cold days in search of warmth at the 
public library, university buildings, 
local businesses and the like. 

"This winter s record low temperatures 
will not only be unbearable and cruel 
to some, but will also be very painful 
and even fatal to others. In a civil 
society like our own, most of us would 
agree that it would be equally as cold 
and just as cruel if we chose to ignore 
the dilemma some of our citizens face 
this Christmas and New Year holiday 
season," stated David Coleman, one of 
the founding members of the "Imagine 
Warming Centers" group, in the last 
city council meeting. 

"Imagine Warming Centers," a task 
force consisting of students and 
community members, envisions a 24- 
hour warming center democratically 
run by homed and homeless volunteers. 
This would be a place of community 
building, where homeless and homed 
individuals combine their skills, explore 



their creativity, support and empower 
each other. Over 25 volunteers are 
committed to work at the warming 
center this winter, and more and more 
people are constantly asking to get 
involved. 

The biggest concern right now is 
locating a site that could be ready 
and available to the public as soon as 
possible. The group has been looking 
at vacant commercial spaces and 
buildings due for demolition, and has 
asked for the city s support in locating a 
space that could be leased or donated to 
the warming center. 

"We approached a few property owners 
and they have not been cooperative 
with us y said activist Alexandra 
Hoffman in her address to the City 
Council. 

"The winter is here, the volunteers are 
waiting, and we need a space! My friend 
mentioned 415 Washington Street; 
there is also the Georgetown Mall and 
the former Borders. These spaces can be 



used while the redevelopment projects 
are being pursued. We could use these 
spaces right now," she added. 

So far, however, the City of Ann Arbor 
has been slow in offering assistance 
or even advice. The group has also 
sought professional help from the 
Washtenaw Housing Alliance, but the 
position of WHA is that resources 
should be invested in establishing 
affordable housing, rather than a 
temporary shelter. Members of the 
Imagine Warming Centers group agree 
that housing is the ultimate goal, but 
contend that the current need for a 
public warm space should still be met 
in the short term. 

"While we certainly intend to work 
toward the building of affordable 
housing in Ann Arbor," said one 
member of the group, "we also need 
to let people in out of the cold right 
now, so that we do not look back in 
anger and sorrow come April and know 
that we could have prevented peoples 
deaths, and didn't." 



www.groundcovernews .com 



COMMUNITY 



Camp Take Notice is a self-governing democracy 




by C. Lee Alexander 
Assistant Editor 

Michigan winters are 
brutal. Now imagine 
hunkering down and 
riding out the season 
in a tent. The economic slump means 
tent cities are springing up all across 
America. Ann Arbor is home to a 
community known as Camp Take 
Notice (CTN). This past summer the 
population of the camp surged above 60 
and the diehards among them will now 
spend another winter with few or none 
of the comforts most take for granted. 

One astonishing aspect of CTN is 
how politically self-governing and 
democratically structured it is. A 
separate nonprofit organization, 
MISSION, was formed and organized 
to help support the camp. Dr. Brian 
Nord is MISSION s president. He said 
that when he first heard about the idea 
for a politically organized homeless 
community, he thought the idea was, 
frankly, crazy 

"Its not crazy though," Nord said, "it 
makes a lot of sense. It makes sense 
because its people working internally 
for their own community. Becoming 
a community is the only way this can 
work." 

"Our principle challenge is public 
knowledge and understanding," Nord 
said. "There is a pervasive opinion 
about impoverished and homeless 
people and changing minds about the 
facts is very difficult. A lot of what 
drives people is confirmation bias. 
People tend to gravitate toward ideas 
that reinforce their beliefs, even in the 
face of other facts." 

Caleb Poirier is an activist who helped 
found CTN, modeled on a similar 
homeless enclave in Seattle where he 
stayed for a short time. CTN has been 
forced to move three times already. The 
camp is currently located off Wagner 
Road, between Jackson and Dexter 
Roads. 

Poirier was twice jailed for resisting 
the removals, something hed never 
experienced. 

"When they released me the first time," 
he said, "they told me, 'we're going to let 
you go, but before we let you go we have 
to ask, are you going to do this again?' 
I answered, e Yes'. In exasperation my 
jailer sent me back to my cell and said, 
'We cant let you go if you're going to go 
back there.' So I said, 'Okay,' but an hour 
later they let me go anyway." 

The word community' is used heavily 
by everybody involved with the 
CTN project. Harsh challenges and 



difficulties often create the strongest 
bonds. Poirier said common hardships 
work toward drawing people together. 
"I believe the sort of cooperation that's 
required to survive," he said, "is a very 
integral piece of what causes people to 
form communal relationships. It's the 
act of surviving together in an austere 
environment and the act of engaging 
in activities of daily living that creates 
connections. 

"I'm very interested in the camp 
becoming an increasingly socially 
healthy community," Poirier said. 

"I have plenty of personal opinions 
about what I'd like it to turn into, but 
what overrides that is my hope that 
the campers themselves will put forth 
their opinions and make the camp 
their own. I think community happens 
when a new person shows up at camp 
and other campers are able to help that 
person set up their tent and give them 
sleeping bags and blankets." 

The political structure of CTN revolves 
around its executive committee. The 
group is made up of five campers 
elected by residents. Enforcing 
camp rules is the committees main 
responsibility. CTN has a strict 
policy against drugs and alcohol and 
violators are generally evicted, although 
violations can later be appealed. 
Brian Durrance is MISSION'S vice- 
president. He said that nearly all 
evictions at camp are a result of 
substance abuse and it is always 
heartbreaking putting somebody back 
out on the street. He said the hard 
truth, though, is that the only way to 
make any society function properly is 
to maintain clear standards. 

"Just say that one night you got into 
a fight and the executive committee 
decides to evict you," Durrance said. 

"You would be out immediately, but 
on Sunday you could come back and 
appeal that decision before the larger 
body. That's the purpose of the body; 
it's a check and balance, so that we don't 
get tyrannical people on the executive 
committee making arbitrary decisions." 

Before residents are permitted to 
enter camp they're all given a set of 
rules they're expected to adhere to. 
Clearly outlining expectations removes 
ambiguity. 

"You must understand that you don t 
have a right to be here unless you agree 
to participate in our community and 
follow our contract," Durrance said. 
"There are lots of places you can go. If 
you're homeless you can go anywhere, 
right? You don't need to be here at 
CTN." 



MISSION maintains a 
steady stream of goods 
that fuels the camp's 
material needs. Churches 
and individuals donate 
tents, sleeping bags, 
propane, bus tokens 
and most of the other 
day-to-day needs of 
campers. Durrance 
says that cooperation 
is the price residents 
pay for the benefits that 
MISSION works hard 
providing. Even the 
seemingly mundane act 
of arranging transport 
to doctors or other 
appointments requires 
careful planning. 




"If you don't feel like 
you can participate," 
Durrance said, "if you 
feel like you don't have any obligation to 
our community, then our community 
feels it has an obligation to evict you. 
We don't believe everyone just has a 
right to be wherever they want to be. 
We believe if you're here, you're here to 
be a part of our group" 



Caleb Poirier is an activist who helped found CTN 



Being part of a group means 
participating in decision-making. 
Weekly meetings are held Sundays, 
where important topics are discussed 
and votes are held. Sunday is also a day 
for campers to host a poduck meal with 
a standing invitation to the wider Ann 
Arbor community. 

see CAMP, page 11 










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MAKING A DIFFERENCE 



Vendors, once housing insecure — where are they now? 




by Francesca Lupia 
Groundcover Contributor 

Groundcover s vendors are 
unfailingly grateful for the 
generosity of the community 
and for Groundcover s impact in 
their lives. They strive to use their 
connection to the organization to 
increase their individual capacities 
for good. I had the opportunity 
to speak with four Groundcover 
vendors this month. Each of these 
remarkable individuals shared 
thoughtful and poignant reflections 
on their personal experience with 
Groundcover. 

Miriam 

Miriam discovered 
Groundcover when 
founders Susan 
Beckett and Laurie 
Lounsbury came to 
the Delonis Center 
(in which she was 
living at that time). 
She remembers, "They asked us 
if we were interested in helping 
ourselves. I signed up, and I knew I 
was staying." 

Miriam is proud to be 
Groundcover s "Vendor #6," one 
of the original vendors of the 
street newspaper. She has also 
been featured in an article about 
her personal background. When 
asked why she has remained at 
Groundcover for such a long time, 
Miriam eagerly expounded on the 
benefits Groundcover offers to the 
Ann Arbor community. 

"A lot of people dont understand 
what being homeless is about," 
she explained. "They don t know 
that it can happen to anyone. 
Groundcover gives them an insight 
into homelessness." 

Miriams long career with 
Groundcover has also been enriched 
with deep personal connections. 

"The best part is helping people. 
There's definitely love in it. I'm a 
religious person, and I see love and 
faith in this paper's work." 



Since joining Groundcover, 
Miriam has successfully found 
housing. However, her life has not 
been without challenges: physical 
ailments have made her situation 
"very hard" at times. Miriam suffers 
from epilepsy, and has struggled 
to find seizure-control medicine 
that does not physically weaken 
her. However, the generosity of 
her Groundcover and church 
communities have supported her 
and given her strength to push 
through physical hardships. 

"Selling papers keeps my spirits 
up," she said. "It gives you pride 
and dignity, and an opportunity to 
be a human being. You get to stand 
tall. Its a good feeling, to have self- 
respect." Her work at Groundcover 
has also helped her supplement her 
personal budget, which includes 
rent and utilities for her apartment, 
money for her adult son, and 
personal needs. 

In the months to come, Miriam 
wishes to help Groundcover 
grow, and to "give back" to the 
organization that has helped her 
find respect and housing. "We work 
together" she declared. "It's good for 
the soul." 

Rissa (in upper right photo) 
Rissa is primarily a vendor, but she 
has also written several articles for 
Groundcover. She also introduced 
Groundcover to Shelley (profiled 
later in this article), who would go 
on to become her fellow vendor. 

"I enjoy meeting people, and I like 
to talk," she explained. Indeed, 
Rissa's sociability and passion for 
Groundcover has both brought 
new members to the Groundcover 
community and allowed her 
to drastically improve her own 
situation. 

Of her introduction to Groundcover, 
Rissa remembers: "I first found out 
about Groundcover when Susan 
(Beckett) and Laurie (Lounsbury) 
came to the Delonis Center [where 
Rissa was living at the time]. They 






Your membership matters. 
Click here to join today! 



Matters.org 

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explained the paper's mission : 
and I thought it was a great 
idea. So I said, c Sign me up!"' 
She now sells papers outside 
of the Peoples' Food Co-op 
on Fourth Avenue. 

Her favorite aspect of 
working for Groundcover 
is, not surprisingly, meeting 
new people, but she also 
appreciates "the chance to 
earn income - a hand up, not 
a handout. . . the support I've 
gotten from Groundcover is aj 
great thing." 




The aforementioned 
financial and social support 
has since allowed her to 
find stable housing and deal with 
physical challenges. Though she 
still sometimes struggles to make 
ends meet, Rissa proudly deems 
herself an "incurable optimist. 
I'll find a way to get it done with 
Groundcover." 

But Groundcover s impact on 
Rissa's life has been far from 
purely personal. Its given her an 



Rissa selling Groundcover newspapers in Kerrytown 



opportunity to be "influential 
to others. It's a great spiritual 
encouragement," she explained. 
Rissa is an aspiring computer 
teacher, and she has used her 
passion for education to teach other 
vendors about various software and 
computer programs. "I love that 
'Oh! Now I get it' moment when I'm 
teaching others," she shared. 

see VENDORS, page 10 




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Solutions on page 11 



GROUNDCOVER VENDOR CODE 



While Groundcover News is a nonprofit 
organization and newspaper vendors 
are considered contracted self-employers, 
we still have expectations of how vendors 
should conduct themselves while selling 
and representing the paper. 

The following list is our Vendor Code of 
Conduct, which every vendor reads 
and signs before receiving a badge and 
papers. We request that if you discover 
a vendor violating any tenets of the Code, 
please contact us and provide as many 
details as possible. Our paper and our 
vendors should be posively impacting our 
County. 

All vendors must agree to the following code 
ofconduct: 

• Groundcover News will be distributed 
for a voluntary donation of $ 1 . 1 agree 
not to ask for more than a dollar or 
solicit donations by any other means. 

• I will only sell current issues of 
Groundcover News. 

• I agree not to sell additional goods or 
products when selling the paper or 
to panhandle, including panhandling 
with only one paper. 

• I will wear and display my badge 
when selling papers. 

• I will only purchase the paper from 
Groundcover News Staff and will 



not sell to or buy papers from other 
Groundcover News vendors, especial- 
ly vendors who have been suspended 
or terminated. 

• I agree to treat all customers, staff, 
other vendors respectfully. I will 
not"hard sell," threaten, harass or 
pressure customers, staff, or other 
vendors verbally or physically. 

• I will not sell Groundcover News un- 
der the influence of drugs or alcohol 

• I understand that I am not a legal 
employee of Groundcover News but a 
contracted worker responsible for my 
own well-being and income. 

• I understand that my badge is prop- 
erty of Groundcover News and will 
not deface it. 1 will present my badge 
when purchasing the papers. 

• I agree to stay off private property 
when selling Groundcover News. 

• I understand to refrain from selling 
on public buses, federal property or 
stores unless there is permission from 
the owner. 

• I agree to stay at least one block away 
from another vendor. I will also abide 
by the Vendor corner policy. 

If you see any Groundcover News ven- 
dors not abiding by the code of conduct, 
please report the activity to: 
contact@groundcovernews.com 
734-972-0926 



ACROSS 

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42. Set out 










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54. He learned five languages and studied 


10. William Rand's partner 41. Survive 


literature before becoming a chemist 


11. He resisted persuasion to become 42. Fuel 


60. Compass point (abbr.) 


a fisherman like his father 44. Soccer player Hamm 


61. Blockade 


12. Southern California city 45. Locate 


62. Watch manufacturer 


13. Angry 46. Cut 


63, Possessive pronoun 


18. Car rental company 47. Aplomb 


64. Belief 


22. Indian tribe 48, Cold rain 


65, Toy bricks 


23. Team 51. Exhort 




24. Falls, Montana 52. European city 


DOWN 


25. She grew up in a California commune 55. Recline 


1. Vehicle 


27, Facial expression 56, Marsh 


2. Fire residue 


28, With skill 57. Entreat 


3. Food preservative (abbr.) 


30. NFL quarterback Dawson 58. Self 


4. Griffeys of Major League Baseball 


31. Poker pro Wendeen 59. Vegas 


5. Short operatic composition 


33. Challenges 


6. Seeger and Townshend 


35. Parched 


7. Planted 


36. Tightly packed Puzzle by Jeff Richmond 




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By The Pound, locally owned and in business since 1982, carries more 
than 170 bulk spices, 80 different teas, 40 choices of coffee, grains, 
and flours, as well as high-end baking chocolates. Our nuts are freshly 
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615 South Main Street, Ann Arbor Ml, 48104 



THE ARTS 



Book Review: Idiot America: How Stupidity 
Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free 



by Charles P Pierce 

c. 2009, published byDoubleday, a division 
of Random House, Inc, New York 

by David KE Dodge 
Groundcover Contributor 

People considering reading Idiot America 

should take warning: its author lures with 

irresistible humor, until the reader is snared 

into reading sobering, even alarming 

descriptions of the decayed state of political 

discourse 

concerning 

critically 

important 

public policy 

issues; or, 

even worse, 

concerning 

trivial, ersatz 

issues which 

have displaced 

important 

issues as topics 

of public 

discussion. 

Pierce starts 

with an 

introduction 

that familiarizes 

his readers with 

Hie Creation 

Museum, 

in Hebron, 

Kentucky, a 

Genesis-based 

depiction of 

the origins of 

all life on earth, 

both past and 

present. The 

"Christian theme park" and its exhibits are 

recalled at numerous points in his narrative. 

Mr. Pierce goes on to expose his readers to 
the three Great Premises of Idiot America: 

Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks 
up ratings, or otherwise moves units; 

Anything can be true if someone says it 
loudly enough; 

Fact is that which enough people believe. 
Truth is determined by how fervently they 
believe it. 

The decay of public discourse is marked 
by an indifference to truth; by a distrust of 
expertise; by a choosing of, and polarization 
of, "sides," and by activism misguided to the 
point of calumny and violence. 

In his research for writing Idiot America, 
Pierce interviews people who have been 




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directly and adversely impacted by public 
policy developed under the influence of 
demagogues and media wags. Pierces 
contacts included hospice staff and 
volunteers in Florida, and the members of 
families of students at a nearby elementary 
school; a Federal District Court Judge in 
Williamsport, Pennsylvania; an American 
Indian community on a far-flung shore on 
the Chukchi Sea, in Alaska; a terrorism 
expert in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and 
a number of ignored patriots in the D.C. 

metropolitan 
area who put 
vital national 
interest above 
partisan political 
maneuvers and, 
in some cases, 
even above 
personal career 
interests. 

Pierce shows 
how the Great 
Premises of of 

Idiot America 
apply to curious 
positions 
adopted on 
a number of 
different issues, 
including 
creationism in 
public schools, 
hospice care, 
global warming, 
torture, habeas 
corpus, the FCC 
and the fairness 
doctrine, 
government as 
an enemy, and 
how to best counter terrorism. 

The more exotic positions taken concerning 
such controversial (or, in some cases, 
widely settled) issues may seem to many 
Americans to be mere curios, things to 
be ignored when conditions permit, and 
humored when they force our attention. But 
when public debate on such issues becomes 
mired in irrational diatribe and posturing 
on the part of a small segment of the 
public, the costs to "innocent," disinterested 
parties can be great: taxes diverted from 
education to litigation; a neighborhood 
elementary school temporarily closed due 
to anonymous threats of violence; a small, 
close-knit community eroding into the sea 
after centuries of existence; bodies shipped 
home in coffins as a result of gratuitous 
war-making. 

Idiot America is worth reading. Ann Arbor 
District Library carries at least three copies. 



Even VJhen 

by La Shawn Cour^. 
Qroundcover Vendor 



H 



Dedicated to my Grandmother Sylvania who never threw her 
tree out until the twelve days of Christmas were over. 



tven when you ve given your Love to those who 
taste it, touch it, live it, do it, act-out -of -it, -in -Love, 

All you give is Love, 

Even when that something, someone, somehow wills 
you to derail, 

off your own tracks. 

Even when life just happens, 

Let no -thing or any -thing, 

Take the Love, 

You Own! 
Even when they just won't accept you. 
You just go on and Love, 
Love to forgive 
Forgive, 

To Love! 



Christmas to me means, 

the beginning, 



to pursue by acts 

of good will 

for all! 




Bethlehem United Church of Christ 

423 S. Fourth Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 

(between William and Packard) 

www.bethlehem-ucc.org (734) 665-6149 

Bethlehem Church is home for the Groundcover Office 

Sunday s: 

8:30 am and 10:00 am ~ Worship 
10:00 am ~ Church School 

Upcoming Events: 

January 2 ~ Office and building closed 

January 20 ~ Sauerkraut Supper 

6:00 - 7:30 pm 

Public welcome * tickets $10/adult and $4/children under 10 

January 27 ~ Parking Lot Pretzels ~ Noon 

January 29 t Organ Recital ~ 4:00 pm 

Bethlehem Organist Gail Jennings Performing 

an invitation to grow in spirit and serve with joy 



www. groundcovernews . com 



10 



FEATURES 



Vendors embrace new challenges, reach out to others 




continued from page 7 

In addition, Rissa had an 
opportunity to join other 
Groundcover vendors and staff 
members at the annual North 
American Street Newspaper 
Association conference. Rissa was 
reminded of the true potential of 
street newspapers to "give a voice to 
the voiceless." She met vendors from 
across the country, and hopes to 
use the perspectives gathered there 
to help Groundcover grow. Tm so 
grateful for Groundcover," Rissa 
stated. "It teaches you that things 
work out eventually, and how to 
appreciate people." 

Tony 

If you ve purchased a 
copy of Groundcover 
News within the last 
several months, you 
may have noticed a 
simple inscription 
penned across the top of the front 
page: "Pray for Mariel, 8 years old." 
This powerful message is the work 
of Tony, a 16-month Groundcover 
vendor. As he sold papers on 
the corner of Liberty and Main, 
Tony met eight-year-old Mariel 
Almendras as she tied ribbons 
around lampposts in Ann Arbor to 
promote cancer awareness. Mariel 
has since passed away from a rare 
form of childhood cancer (Tony 
attended and spoke at her funeral), 
but the bright and determined little 
girl has served as an inspiration 
to Tony as he continues work for 
Groundcover. 

"That little girl did more good in 
her life than a 100-year-old man," 
he reflected. "She's with me on my 
corner every day." 

Mariel's message is just one of 
the many stories that, for Tony, 
are the highlight of his work with 
Groundcover. "You meet so many 
people. It makes you a better 
person," he explained. He discovered 



Groundcover when Susan Beckett 
came to a free breakfast at St. 
Andrews Episcopal Church and 
gave a presentation about the street 
newspaper and its mission. He was 
homeless and unemployed at the 
time, having lost his construction 
job, and decided to try selling 
newspapers. Tony soon realized the 
immense uplift that his new career 
provided. 

"You get to enjoy every smile," he 
added. "There are a lot of people 
with good hearts out there, and it 
really makes you feel good." 

Tony cites his eight-year-old 
granddaughter Brittney as his main 
inspiration for work and life. They 
communicate via text message, 
but have not been able to visit 
frequently since Tony lost his job. 
He said that "the hardest part [of 
being homeless] was not seeing 
her," but using the money earned 
from his work at Groundcover, Tony 
has since found housing. He also 
plans to write a comic/cartoon for 
Groundcover, inspired by Brittney 
and titled "Brittney and G.P" 
Flip to the front page of this copy 
of Groundcover News. Has Tony 
penned a mini-memorial for Mariel 
across the top? Even if he hasn't, 
his compassion and devotion to the 
community are embodied in each 
issue of Groundcover. 



Shelley 

Shelley, a vendor and 
contributing writer, 
has a clear talent for 
business. 



P "I love coming up with 
new ideas," she enthused. 'Last 
summer, I wanted to get some more 
exposure for Groundcover. So I 
went to the dollar store and bought 
a hat with a flamingo on it. I brought 
some bubbles and plastic leis to my 
corner, and business picked up." 




Schakolad 

Chocolate Factory 



110 E Washington St 

Ann Arbor, MI 48104 

(734)213-1700 

In downtown Ann Arbor 
Vi block from Main St. 



EUROPEAN STYLE HOT CHOCOLATE 
TO WARM THE BODY 

TRUFFLES AND CHOCOLATES 
TO WARM THE HEART 

Mention this ad for 10% off everything, including custom orders. 



In the long term, Shelley wishes to 
return to college and earn a degree 
in Business Management (she took 
classes in Communications and 
English at Washtenaw Community 
College last winter), and eventually 
open a roller rink in Ann Arbor. 
In August, 2010, Shelley became 
unemployed: an event that put 
her housing situation "on the 
edge" and challenged her business 
aspirations. While waiting for food 
at a local food bank, she met Rissa 
who told her about Groundcover s 
work in the community. Shelley 
couldn't afford to make a one- 
dollar donation for her first paper, 
so Rissa gave her one free. After 
her Groundcover orientation, she 
got the customary 10 free papers 
allotted to each vendor to start 
their career and "the next thing you 
know, I was a vendor!" 

"It started out as being for the 
money," she says, but Shelley's career 
with Groundcover quickly became 
something much more valuable. 

"My favorite part has got to be the 
camaraderie of the people involved," 
she remarked. "People really listen 
to what I have to say" She has also 
made her perspectives heard in 
several articles for Groundcover. 
Her first article focused on the 
differences between panhandlers 
and Groundcover vendors - a 
distinction that, in Shelley's 
opinion, is sometimes unclear to the 



general public. "It's important to 
differentiate," she noted. In the near 
future, she plans to write an article 
about teen homelessness. 

Shelley's son, a high school student, 
is the youngest Groundcover 
vendor. He sometimes experiences 
stigma for his work: "It's associated 
with homeless people," Shelley 
explained. "He gets frustrated 
sometimes, because its not a steady 
job where you get a paycheck: and 
in some sense, he's right." In the 
future, as Groundcover expands, 
Shelley hopes to work in the office, 
managing paperwork and other 
business-related needs. But for now, 
she is grateful for the "compassion, 
tolerance, and patience" that 
Groundcover has taught her. She 
adds, "I'd just like to say thank you 
to everyone who has supported 
Groundcover and myself." 

Groundcover's very mission is 
one of self- reflection and growth. 
It strives to help our community 
re-evaluate our perceptions of 
homelessness, and to make a 
true difference in the lives of its 
vendors. And it definitely succeeds: 
the women and men who sell 
Groundcover bring both reflection 
and change to the front page each 
month. Enjoy this month's edition 
of Groundcover, and let the stories 
of these vendors inspire you as you 
enter a new year full of potential for 
good. 




Reverends Paul & Stacey Simpson Duke 

517 E. Washington St. 

(between State & Division) 

734-663-9376 



www*fbca2.org 




FIRST BAPTIST 

CHURCH OF ANN ARBOR 



WHERE TRADITION MEETS PROGRESSIVE 
INQUIRY AND CREATIVE WORSHIP 




FEATURES 



11 



Camp gives opportunity for homeless and middle class people to understand one another 

continued from page 6 

Peggy Lynch is a MISSION board 
member. She invests substantial blocks 
of time reaching out on behalf of CTN. 



are a community within the camp with 
community ties outside the camp." 



"Not only is there this exceptional 
wonderful community-building going 
on within the camp," Lynch said, 
"but within our very economically 
stratified society, this gives people in 
the middle class the ability to develop 
friendships with homeless people. We 



Educating people about homelessness 
is important. Sunday potlucks work 
at breaking down stereotypes. Lynch 
said it's a rare opportunity for people 
who have few chances to cross social 
barriers. 

"Sitting in at these Sunday meetings," 
Lynch said, "one thing that just knocks 



me over every single time is how 
amazing these camp meetings are. 
These are people who are often at the 
very lowest point in their lives, who 
have so many issues to deal with. 



"It takes a special set of terrible 
circumstances for a person to end up 
homeless. Each person, individually, is 
just struggling with a terrible burden, 
but when they get together they make 
group decisions. 



"The decisions they make collectively 
are just amazingly wise and well- 
considered. It's really given me a much 
more positive view of the democratic 
process. The concept of homeless 
people self-governing sounds sort of 
absurd, but to have watched it over and 
over again, this collective decision- 
making process results in amazingly 
good, compassionate, wise decisions " 



Simplifying your life is the "ultimate sophistication" 



continued from page 3 

begin to find enjoyment again in simple 
things: The sweetness of breath, the 
changing of the seasons, and the sheer 
wonder of being alive. What's more, 
when we slow down, time itself seems 
to follow suit; it no longer feels quite 
so much like a scarce commodity. Less 
again finds a way of becoming more. 

Simple Suggestion #6: Learn to 
say "enough." Just about everything 
in our mass culture is designed to 
catch our attention and feed and 
multiply our desires. For instance, 
the average American is subjected 



to 3,000 advertisements a day. We 
are goaded to constantly consume, 
and to "upgrade" our belongings, 
our image, our vocabulary, and our 
entertainment preferences to the latest 
fad. A lot of these novelties are really 
clever, fun, and exciting - no wonder 
our fascination. However, if we accept 
without discrimination all of these 
messages we receive, we will eventually 
become (as my favorite philosopher 
Alan Watts might have put it) mere 
tubes through which corporations and 
politicians push their products - in one 
end and out the other, so to speak. But 
human beings are so much more than 
consumers; we are not here to merely 
"shop till we drop." 



To keep these forces from taking 
over our lives, we need to continually 
reassert our human dignity, and take a 
personal stand for the things we cherish 
most. We can take that stand by voicing 
our concerns, or by simply making 
different choices: Turning off the 
television; shutting down the computer; 
going without plans for the evening; 
taking an aimless stroll; watching the 
clouds pass by... The possibilities are 
infinite, and the more we unwind and 
unfold into the beautiful richness of the 
uncomplicated present moment, the 
more fully we realize - as Leonardo da 
Vinci once put it - that "simplicity is 
the ultimate sophistication." 



II 



■ 

. : ": 



Join Groundcover! 

Voh i a 

writer, trainer, or a 
helper. 

V^ehave a place for 

' )U> 

contact@ground- 
covernews.com 



Strange (but Mostly True) Stories About a Mother and her Daughter • Cy Klone © 2012 



So, planning to make any 
resolutions for the new year** 

[ Who? Me? I'm perfect! 



I Really? Despite folklore to 
the contrary, you don't always | 
I land on your feet. 

I Well, when I'm doing high-level | 
J ninja moves beyond the ability 
of mere mortal cats my landings | 
are perfect, though it may not 
appear so to the untrained eye. 
I It's all about degree of djfficulty. | 



I And when you got your head stuck 
| in that empty ice cream pint; 
| was that perfection as well? 



i ; m 



itlll 



I can't believe you even 
brought that up. 
Yes, that was one of my 
most perfect moments ever! I 



I guess I couldn't tell from the 
way you kept jumping around 
and tossing your head 
I back and forth. 

1 1 was dancing with joy ! I 



I 






CRYPTOQUOTE 

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"To love oneself is the 
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Oscar Wilde 



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www, groundcovemews , c 



STREET BUZZ 



12 



If the cat and dog can do it, then so can I - but maybe I shouldn't 




by Laurie 

Lounsbury 
Editor 

Not again. 

Not this year. 



I am not making 
a bunch of unachievable New Year's 
resolutions that leave me in a quagmire 
of consternation when I realize I'm not 
going to be able to keep them. 

I will not resolve to lose 20 pounds in 
two months. 

I will not resolve to become a 
vegetarian - especially not a vegan. 

I will not resolve to give up ALL four 
of my favorite wintertime food groups 
- Sweet, Salt, Fat and 86 Proof. Maybe 
one or two, but not all four. Life isn't 
worth living without at least some of 
that stuff. 

This year, I'm basing my resolutions 



on lessons I've learned from my 
housemates - a cat and a dog. 

So here goes: 

From the Honduran kitty, I resolve 
to stretch every time I wake up. But I 
will not claw at the carpet even though 
I'm somewhat attracted to the concept 
of multi- tasking and wearing down 
the rough edges on my nails while 
stretching. 

From my dog, I resolve to wake up 
eager and ready for a walk in the 
park. But, unlike my dog, I resolve 
not to sniff other dogs or people in 
inappropriate places. Maybe dogs can 
make new friends this way, but it's 
never worked too well for me. 

When I'm hungry and need help getting 
a meal on the table, I resolve to ask for 
help and not passively-aggressively bat 
my food dish around the kitchen like 
its a mouse in advanced stages of rigor 
mortis and then knock it down the 
basement stairs. 



If I need a hug and affection, I will 
reach out openly and honestly to those 
who can fulfill those needs - I will 
not resort to biting their toes to get a 
backrub. 

I will not lick myself in front of guests. 

If I need to assert my authority in a 
houseful of rowdy company, I will not 
hump the loudest persons leg. 

I have also been inspired by some 
human companions, which has 
prompted me to add their philosophies 
to my resolution list: 

From Margie, I resolve not to get 
discouraged when the world situation 
seems so hopelessly overwhelming and 
tragic. I will remember the Butterfly 
Effect and know that even if I do one 
small thing to make a difference in 
the world each day, the effects of those 
small acts can stir up a mighty wind of 
change, just like the flutter of butterfly 
wings on one side of the planet can 
create a hurricane on the other side. 



From Jerry, I resolve to slow down and 
take a closer look at natures beauty. 
When we look closely enough, we can 
see ourselves reflected in the most 
amazing ways, from ice formations on 
a river to sand etchings on a beach after 
the waves recede. 

From Mary, I resolve to never forget 
that just about anything is achievable if 
a friend has your back. 

From my First Friday friends, I resolve 
to sing and dance and play the guitar 
more often, because even the worst case 
of the blues (emotional, not musical) 
can be expunged with those activities. 

I wish all of you good luck with your 
New Year's resolutions. And if you find 
you Ve bitten off more than you can 
chew, then make a new resolution - 
to try and make life a little better for 
someone less fortunate, even if its a 
small gesture. 

Believe me, it will count. 



by Jerry Mack 
Groundcover Contributor 

Our world is rich in human-made and 
naturally occurring musical sounds. 
It is a vibration that allows most of us 
to experience and participate in its 
expression and energy. For the month 
of January, here's where you can go to 
appreciate great sounds. 

Guy Hollerirfs Local Blues & Brews 

at the Holiday Inn near U-Ms campus 
on Plymouth Rd. has all the great 
danceable rhythm & blues youll need 
to lighten up Saturday nights. The first 
two Saturdays are booked with big- 
time musicians, with back-to-back 
ladies singing the blues for you. 

Lady Sunshine ikihe X Band welcome 
you to the new year s first Saturday 
night with soulful hip-shakin blues, 
and funk on Jan, 7. Lady Sunshine 
and her 7-piece groove machine have 
been hard at work for almost 20 years 
providing some of the best R&B, soul, 
funk, and blues with a impassioned 
delivery that always lets the good 
times roll. Original X Band members 
"Slick"Rick" Humesky on guitar and f 



Pat Padila on tenor saxophone with her 
poignant repertoire of originals, blues, 
and soul renditions. 



Thornetta Davis is one of the 

most popular blues singers in 
the Detroit area. She and her 
band will rock your troubles 
away with big time blues and 
soul from the Motor City on 
Jan. 14. 



Harper & His Midwest Kind 

stop back on the Jan. 21. The 
Australian-born songwriter 
hones his original music from 
the fusion American R&B, 
roots blues and world music. 
His shows are always a unique 
performance, which include 
solos on the harmonica and the 
aboriginal didgeridoo. 

Boogie down with some fine 
jump blues and classic rockers 
with The Bluescasters on Jan. 

28. 

|Ilie Friday Happy Hour from 
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Live at PJ's 

has become the regular stop for 
those who want to jump start 



Groundcover News Advertising Rates 



their weekend with some great local 
bands. Fubar plays a danceable mix of 
soul and rock originals and covers Jan. 
6. The Terraplanes rocks the house 



with blues and roots rock on Jan. 20. 
Long time Happy Hour hosts, Drivirf 
Sideways plays roots country, swing 
and pop covers on Jan. 13 and 27. 




Accepting software developer resumes: 
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Mobile Health Software Development 

Opening in Ann Arbor with 

the support of SPAI 



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Ann Arbor, Mi 48104 

(734) 372-4065 Ext 288 



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